The Importance Of Understanding Co-Occurring Disorders
As one makes their way through recovery, it is important to understand the causes of their addiction and what led them to use in the first place. It is also important to understand as many of the factors as possible that are in place that should be addressed in order for an addict to effectively recover, both the addict and their professional team must understand any types of co-occurring disorders.
What Are Co-Occurring Disorders?
When a person is said to have co-occurring disorders, they are also said to have what is referred to as a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is what happens when a person is diagnosed with both addiction and another psychological disorder. These disorders may be quite varied and may include things like depression, anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social phobias, and schizophrenia.
How Often Do Disorders Occur Together?
It is very common for a patient in recovery to be diagnosed with co-occurring disorders. There seems to be quite a bit of crossover between mental illness and drug abuse. In fact, as many as 37% of alcoholics have some other type of mental illness, as do 53% of narcotics abusers.
Similarly, of the individuals who have been identified as those who suffer from mental illness, 29% may also abuse drugs or alcohol. Additionally, over 66% of individuals with ADHD experience at least one co-occurring disorder. The connection between drug and alcohol abuse may seem fairly clear, as there are a number of reasons that a person with a mental illness may be prone to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.
Psychological Disorders and Drug Abuse
One of the reasons that psychological may be so closely tied to drug and alcohol abuse is that many drug users use the drugs to numb or dull any sense of emotional pain that may occur. This temptation may be particularly strong in individuals with psychological disorders because disorders like depression and anxiety lead the person who is suffering from them to experience a number of unpleasant and even painful sensations.
An individual who is suffering from a disorder may be using drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate their problem and find that they are quickly dependent on the drugs. It is also possible for a person to develop addiction first, and then to begin to suffer from psychological disorders as a result of their addiction. Drug and alcohol addiction can lead to many highs and lows, including severe depression and even hallucinations.
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders in Recovery
It is important that both the addict and the counselors helping them understand co-occurring disorders because it is imperative that both issues are adequately treated in order for for an addict to begin to live in a healthy and sober way. It is difficult, if not impossible to achieve and maintain sobriety while an addict is also suffering from another disorder, because one issue feeds the other. In order for an addict to get the clarity they need to work toward health and through the deep seated roots of their addiction, they must also work on resolving any other psychological disorders.
Detox, Rehab, and Psychological Help
In order for a recovering addict to find health, they should have both their addiction and their psychological disorder treated at the same time. This cannot be done, however, until the addict has detoxed from the drug they are addicted to.
For this reason, the first step of any treatment program is always detoxification, because no real work can be done while drugs or alcohol are in an addict’s system. Once an addict has detoxed, they can continue into the process of rehab and psychological therapy to treat both disorders.